Time to finish out the Red Black league we started last week! I think it rounds out nicely, and Stage 3 even gets me to rebuild the main deck as a Blue Red build. Find out more below...
Click here to jump past the intro.
Introduction to Article Series
With this series, I'm aiming to go through the friendly add-a-pack leagues and give readers a chance to give feedback and hopefully gain some insight. I'll likely vary where I break in the article, and sometimes will ask for community feedback as to how to integrate a new pack before playing more matches. Here is a list of previous entries in this series.
I'll also include a value of the pool and pack, and might do some EV calculations (i.e. how much is the add-a-pack league worth). While it won't be true EV, it will be a real world application, which should highlight some of the variance you'll expect to see.
Generally, I will do text write-ups, not videos. There may be times where I do include videos, but I will still include a write-up as well. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how to improve the series!
Friendly League 4 Stage 2
Well, we left off with a fairly strong Red Black deck. Luckily, the Aether Revolt pack added some nice options for us, most notably a Quicksmith Rebel. Let's see what options we have:
Out of the pack, there was only 4 really possibilities with the pack. Without a doubt, the Quicksmith Rebel is coming in, though I need to verify my artifact count. Beyond that, the Scrapper Champion and Aether Chaser are both strong, while the Lathnu Sailback is mediocre. So, the question is, what creatures to cut? I realized that Ravenous Intruder is pretty bad in my deck as there simply are not many artifacts that I can sacrifice for profit. So, that's one cut.
After that, it's really between Reservoir Walker, Alley Strangler, and Spontaneous Artist. I strongly consider cutting the walker, but I hesitate when one of the additions is Scrapper Champion, which strongly wants more energy. The Aether Poisoner and Aether Chaser are both cards that also want energy. In the end I decide not to cut the walker. For similar reasons, I do not cut the artist, because it allows for some explosive plays. So, in the end, I decide to cut Ravenous Intruder and Alley Strangler and put in Quicksmith Rebel and the second Scrapper Champion. Here is the finished Stage 2 deck:
Match 1 vs. Green White 0-2
MTGO Note/Bug - When updating the deck for Stage 2, I encountered the phantom card bug. Moving cards back and forth, MTGO displayed between 1-3 Aether Chaser and Scrapper Champion. After a fair bit of fiddling around, I thought I had the issue fixed. However, during Game 1 of Match 1, I was dubious, and then during sideboarding, I realized the game had in fact not properly saved my deck. I do not believe it would have changed the games, but it is technically possible (and it might result in a different shuffling, so forth).
Game 1: Unfortunately, the games were not close. I kept 4 lands, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, Release the Gremlins, and Siege Modification. I draw only lands while my opponent kills the pirate and overwhelms with a fast Ridgescale Tusker hand, and a curve of Audacious Infiltrator, kill spell, Peema Outrider, then tusker.
Game 2: Game 2 was the converse, where I keep a hand of 2 lands, Fretwork Colony, Siege Modification, Weldfast Engineer, and Mobile Garrison after a mulligan. The colony gets hit with a Prey Upon and I never see another land or 2 drop, losing to the green white beats.
Match 2 vs. Red White Vehicles 0-2
Game 1: This match was worse than the first. In this game, I mull to 4 with 3 no land hands, keeping Swamp, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, Reservoir Walker, and Consulate Dreadnought. I never see another land, and die to Veteran Motorist and Renegade Freighter, along with other creatures.
Game 2: This game was better, but only mildly so. I mull to 6, keeping 3 lands, Consulate Dreadnought, Siege Modification, and Weldfast Engineer. I play the Consulate Dreadnought and then Weldfast Engineer, waiting to avoid some obvious removal. After some trading of creatures with Sweatworks Brawler and Aether Herder among others, I kept drawing dead. When I finally modify the dreadnought, it gets chumped and then Revoke Privileges. With that, I am again overrun.
It's likely that I was tilted by game 2, and possibly game 1. I probably could have played Game 2 better, but was annoyed at the mana and mulligan issues. It's also why these games are so lightly written up.
Match 3 TheBigLuiso: 2 - 0 vs. Black White Stuff
Game 1: I keep a super bad hand - Fretwork Colony and 6 lands. I was on the play, and that colony on the play can win single-handedly. My first draws are Aether Chaser and Cruel Finality. My opponent plays a Trusty Companion. My opponent adds Aether Poisoner, which for some reason they trade with my servo token, which lets me kill their companion, leaving them with just a servo token. I add Mobile Garrison, and my opponent adds Audacious Infiltrator and Aviary Mechanic. I attack with the colony and the garrison, leaving the chaser to block after untapping. At this point, my opponent could attempt to double block and kill the colony, but chooses not to. Which was good for them, as my draw was Fatal Push. My opponent plays Night Market Aeronaut, and then concedes for some reason.
Game 2: I keep Release the Gremlins, Siege Modification, Weldfast Engineer, and lands. I draw and lead with Renegade Map, while my opponent starts with Audacious Infiltrator and then Renegade Freighter. The freighter is strong enough that I just Release the Gremlins for 1, and next turn my opponent uses Cruel Finality on it, probably somewhat for the scry as they missed their land drop. Based on that, I use Chandra's Revolution to kill the dwarf and tap a land. Nonetheless, my opponent adds Defiant Salvager. I then add Scrapper Champion and Consulate Dreadnought. My opponent taps out to Daring Demolition to my scrapper. That gives me the opening to Siege Modification the dreadnought and add 2 power with Weldfast Engineer. My opponent plays nothing, then chumps. I draw Quicksmith Rebel, kill the freshly played Aethergeode Miner, and my opponent concedes on their next draw.
Let's see if I can recover - here is the Kaladesh Pack:
||$0.28 + 20PP - $1.76
A pitiful pack in value (not that the cards are that great either...)
So, clearly I should play green for Dubious Challenge, right? That depressing rare aside, the Malfunction, Vedalken Blademaster, and Nimble Innovator make me reevaluate using blue. Previously, I didn't think the counters and Ice Over were enough for the removal. With the Malfunction added, I decide to see what the blue red deck would look like, and this is what I drew up:
I do really like this deck, despite my general disinclination to playing blue. Both Merchant's Dockhand and Implement of Examination are cards that have impressed me, as value grinding cards. And of course, Aethertide Whale is a card that can dominate games itself. There is also quite a bit of flying with double Hinterland Drake and Long-Finned Skywhale.
Another benefit is the slightly higher artifact count, and Aether Swooper can make more servos than Aether Poisoner can, generally. So, the real question is, are the better creatures worth the worse removal? Overall, I think it is very close, and I decide to switch the main deck to Red Blue. There's enough going on, and some ability to dig to my best spells, so it seems like Blue Red gets the slight edge. Spoiler: I end up switching into the Red Black deck in two of the three Stage 3 matches.
Match 1 vs. Green White 2-0
Game 1: I keep Quicksmith Rebel, Mobile Garrison, Ice Over, Aether Chaser, and lands. It's at this point I fully comprehend the beauty that is Quicksmith Rebel combined with Mobile Garrison. If you can attack with Mobile Garrison, you can untap the artifact that Quicksmith Rebel is tinkering with. I'll expand more later.
The early game is pretty typical - I play the Aether Chaser and Mobile Garrison, my opponent plays Longtusk Cub and Audacious Infiltrator. There is some back and forth trading, Chandra's Revolution from me and Prey Upon from my opponent. I had read my opponent for some type of removal, so I waited quite a while for Quicksmith Rebel as the board got stalled. Once I finally put it down, I attacked and took down my opponent's Thriving Ibex and then swung in. My opponent decided they needed to double block to kill the garrison, but the two for one, plus the rebel, and my opponent cannot catch back up, scooping two turns later.
Sideboard: After seeing several creatures that die to Cruel Finality, and feeling lots of pressure from my opponent, I switch into the black deck.
Game 2: I keep Consulate Dreadnought, Cruel Finality, Siege Modification, Aether Poisoner, and lands. My opponent gets off with Audacious Infiltrator and not much else. After an attack and Lifecrafter's Bestiary, I get to modify the dreadnought and hit for 10. My opponent has nothing, and leaves the dwarf back to chump block. That leaves my Cruel Finality to finish the dwarf and clear the path. Sometimes a 10/11 first strike is enough on its own.
Match 2 vs. Red Black 2 - 1
Game 1: I keep Hinterland Drake, Aether Chaser, Mobile Garrison, and lands. My opponent leads with their own Aether Chaser and follows with Alley Strangler. The turns grind to a halt as we both stall out, filling the board and staring at each other with 12-14 life totals. There is a fair bit on the board, with Wayward Giant, Aether Poisoner, Prakhata Pillar-Bug, and Fen Hauler on my opponent's side with Merchant's Dockhand, Aether Chaser, 3/3 Scrapper Champion, Reservoir Walker, and a few servos on my side. I whiff on cards and my opponent finally gets a removal to kill the 3/3 champion, allowing the Fen Hauler to attack. I draw Gearseeker Serpent and hope to stabilize. My opponent decides otherwise and kills it with Tidy Conclusion.
Sideboard: I again switch into the black, as I also saw a Defiant Salvager. I didn't think the blue removal lined up well against my opponent's most threatening creatures.
Game 2: I keep Weldfast Engineer, Reservoir Walker, Chandra's Revolution, Fretwork Colony, and lands. I lead with the colony and my opponent leads with Consulate Skygate! I think they boarded that in after having to kill my 2 Hinterland Drakes. Turns out that card plays poorly against my black red deck. I kill the skygate when it blocks with a Cruel Finality scrying away lands. My opponent is stuck on lands and plays Aether Poisoner. Given my position, I Chandra's Revolution the poisoner, and swing. My opponent does draw a land, but cannot play anything, allowing me to drop the Weldfast Engineer and Consulate Dreadnought. My opponent plays an Embraal Gear-Smasher and passes. I swing in for 6, choosing not to crew, hitting my opponent down to ten. I drop the Reservoir Walker and pass back. My opponent adds Ambitious Aetherborn, making it a 5/5. I had drawn a Tidy Conclusion several turns backs, and finally have a good target. I swing for 13 (5/5 colony, 3/3 engineer, and 5/3 walker because of the engineer trigger). My opponent chumps, and then scoops the next turn.
Game 3: I draw a strong hand of Aether Poisoner, Weldfast Engineer, Fatal Push, Cruel Finality, Scrapper Champion, Mountain, and Swamp. I know it's only 2 lands, but I am on the draw, and have the Cruel Finality to work things out. Luckily, I hit the Swamp and my opponent starts slow, with their first play being a Maulfist Squad which they make a 4/2 for reasons unknown. I get to swing for a bunch, and I kill the squad with Cruel Finality, bringing my opponent to 8. They add Ambitious Aetherborn and this time make a servo. Given the board, I Fatal Push the token and swing in, giving my opponent option for a trade or going to 1. They trade with the engineer, and I add the Scrapper Champion. They scoop on their draw.
Match 3 vs. Green Blue 2 - 0
Game 1: I keep 2 Hinterland Drake, Chandra's Revolution, Aethertide Whale, and lands. My opponent leads with Druid of the Cowl into Aether Herder. I lead with an Aether Swooper and Hinterland Drake, then I kill the herder with Chandra's Revolution. Luckily, I hit my lands so I can play the Aethertide Whale on turn 6 when my opponent tapped out for a 4/4 Lifecraft Cavalry. There is little left for the opponent as my fliers present a two turn clock. My opponent has to main phase a Hunt the Weak on my whale, so they buy a turn, but it isn't enough, so they die to the flying energy whale.
Game 2: I mull into Aether Chaser, Hinterland Drake, Consulate Dreadnought, Ice Over, and lands. My opponent also kept a two lander, but without a two drop. I draw a second Hinterland Drake and a few lands, while my opponent does nothing for a bit. When they finally add Highspire Artisan, I have the Malfunction ready, and then swing to bring my opponent to 6, presenting lethal. They play a Hinterland Drake, and I swing, losing the Aether Chaser, but putting my opponent to 1, facing 3 threats. They play nothing and pass back. I swing in for the win.
So, a 7-2 overall record means I should come out ahead. Sadly, the most valuable card we opened was an uncommon - Fatal Push. Let's see:
||200PP + 40PP + 20PP + 40PP + $3.68 = 300PP + $3.68
||240PP + $3.68 + $1.76 = 240PP + $5.44
||60PP + $8.35 - $5.44 = 60PP + $2.91
Overall, I am quite happy with how this pool turned out. I am a bit disappointed in the 2 losses, as I could have probably handled one game better, and probably should have considered mulliganing more. It's also worth noting that I was playing 16 lands and a Renegade Map in the Red Black version - when I switched to blue, I dropped a land, something that I should have done in the Red Black version.
I also changed up the match recaps a bit. Not as much details, in an attempt to avoid the wall of text assaults. Let me know if you like it this way, or if I should use other methods to avoid wall o' text crits.
As always, I appreciate comments and suggestions!
xger21 on MTGO